You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- This was quite possibly O.J. Mayo’s best game of the season with 13 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds. He set the tone early with five first quarter assists and continued to make the easy pass throughout the game. It obviously helps when teammates are converting shots (Shawn Marion was brilliant in this regard), but Mayo deserves credit in an area where he’s struggled recently, attempting to do too much and committing turnovers. That he didn’t post a single turnover against the Rockets is incredibly impressive and displays a level of patience not seen from him in weeks. His patience in play making carried over into his shot selection; he waited to assert himself until the final quarter, taking and making three straight shots over a 90 second period as Houston was attempting to take the lead.
- Dirk Nowitzki’s willingness to give up the ball out of his short corner sweet spot kept the Maverick offense flowing. Though Dirk was quite efficient with his shooting, scoring 22 points on 9 of 16, I was more impressed with the three assists he dished to Brendan Wright (12 points on 6 of 7 shooting) in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Wright may not ever have a consistent rotation spot, mainly due to his rebounding (he grabbed two in 27 minutes of action against Houston), but when he’s hitting offensively, he helps open up the floor for the Mavericks. Dirk was able to get shots later in the game due to Houston being forced to guard the high post flash from any Dallas center.
- Though many league observers focus on what a certain purple and gold clad shooting guard is doing at age 34, Shawn Marion is doing things defensively at the same age that should not be possible. Even throwing out his 22 points on 10 of 16 shooting, Marion had a brilliant game. Yes, James Harden had 16 free throws, mainly due to his ability to sell contact, but when the game was on the line Marion prevented Harden from getting quality looks. Harden is excellent at both direct penetration and getting off shots when moving side to side. Marion’s abililty to stay on his feet and in front of Harden made the majority of these looks incredibly dificult. That Marion’s never made an All Defensive team is one of the unspoken travesties among close followers of the NBA.
- What is Dallas going to do with Darren Collison (seven points, five assists, three turnovers)? He’s been forced to come off the bench at least once behind every single point guard Dallas has had on the team this season, this time behind Mike James. That list of point guards is not a short one. As maddening as his offensive inconsistency is, it’s his lack of defensive understanding that may limit his time in Dallas to a single season. He was unable to stay in front of Jeremy Lin (or any other Rocket) for much of the game. I fail to understand how a player as fast as Collison has such poor lateral movement. Lin repeatedly beat Collison to the middle of the floor which is counter to the Dallas philosophy of forcing a ball handler towards the baseline. I also don’t understand the recovery angles he takes once he gets beat as he often ends up on the side of his man instead of in front of him. Towards the end of the first quarter, after Lin had scored two consecutive layups on him, Collison was unable to get over a screen on a left wing pick and roll. His attempt at recovery did nothing to prevent Lin from whipping a pass to the right corner for a Chandler Parsons three, mainly because he saddled up next to Lin instead of getting between him and the basket. Finally, we have Collison’s tendency to float mentally when he’s off ball. At the three minute mark in the third, Harden caught Collison flatfooted and found Lin making a simple back cut behind Collison which lead to a Lin lay up. A starting point guard in the NBA cannot make the kind of mental errors Collison makes with alarming regularity.
Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.